Coakley files suit against real estate management company

Keith Loria Jan. 6, 2011, 2:00pm


BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced on Wednesday that her office has filed a lawsuit against a real estate management company for allegedly violating the state's anti-discrimination law.

Mediate Management Company, agent Deborah Kooring and Fenway Buttrick LLC allegedly refused to renew a family's lease agreement because there was a young child living at the property. Under state law, the defendants would have had to comply with lead paint laws because of the child living there, so the defendants allegedly took an unlawful way out of their responsibility.

"Anti-discrimination law prohibits landlords and real estate professionals from refusing to rent to prospective tenants because they have children," Coakley said.

"It further requires them to comply with lead paint laws designed to protect young children from known health hazards."

Coakley alleges that the tenants of the property in question tried to renew their lease in May. Since they had recently had a child, the tenants asked the defendants to inspect the apartment unit for lead paint hazards, Coakley says.

Although the tenants had lived at the apartment for many years, Mediate's agent notified the tenants that their lease would not be renewed, allegedly claiming occupancy limitations and square footage limitations. Both of those claims were later proven to be inaccurate, Coakley says.

The tenants filed a complaint with the Boston Fair Housing Commission alleging discrimination. The defendants eventually conducted a lead paint inspection and learned that the apartment contained high levels of lead paint, Coakley says. They were required to abate the lead hazard under Massachusetts' lead paint laws, Coakley says.

Coakley's office alleges that the tenants were discriminated against. It is seeking injunctive relief and damages.

Under both federal and state fair housing laws, it is illegal to discriminate against an individual or a family seeking housing because of a person's race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, or handicap/disability.

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